Greedy Goblin

Monday, April 20, 2009

Socials and socialists

I keep getting comments that I use the word "social" inappropriate, as the one who supports the M&S is the "socialist" while "social" mean someone who values human relations, friendship and use to spend his free time with people instead of lone hobbies.

I don't think I use the word inappropriate. I think a social person is naturally is (or will be) a socialist. There is a joke:

Who are the socialists? Lassiez-faire capitalists who just lost their job.

There is much truth in this joke. It's disgusting to see the very same bankers and industrialists who were the beacons of right-wing economics now demanding immediate and multi-billion $ of governmental aid.

I'm not saying that everyone are like these overpaid nothingdoers. I can imagine that someone who is hit badly by the economy uphold his beliefs in himself and instead of whining for aid, look for some way to support himself. I would be one. I have enough savings for a year and keep in touch with job agencies, so I'll know where to go on the day when I'll be laid off (I will be some day, though it seems my employer will survive the crisis but that can change). A social person can do the same, it's no different.

However a social person can not stand watching his social connections: friends, family, lovers to get into such situation. While he can believe in himself enough to don't ask for aid for himself, he will ask for aid for them. The big difference between yourself and the ones you love is that you are in control in your own life, so you can act to fix it. You can only hope that they can fix it, you can't do much for them.

How many times have you seen really good players leave guilds because their M&S friends or brothers are kicked or not invited to raid? How many good players are lingering in pathetic guilds because of friends? And it's just a game, the friend would not starve if he'd abandon him. Do you believe that the same guy would say "l2work" if his real world friends or family would lose their home?

Social people use to believe (and troll) that I'm a very young or very lucky person. The reason for that is that a social person must be very young or very lucky to be non-socialist. Every day people are fired, get sick (needing healthcare) or get into financial trouble. So unless you have very little time sample (young), or very lucky, you saw someone you loved going down. And if you saw it you couldn't say it's right, can you?

Yes I can. I saw close friends lose lot of money. It just did not touch me much. I told them back then that they are doing something really risky, but they did not care. Too bad. I saw family members having serious health problems and (while I did not tell them) I thought it's a waste to try to elongate their life if curing is impossible. They (and those who decided to stay close to them) learned it the hard way.

I could do all this because I'm not social. I value real things (like a business analysis) over human relations (like the friend who made a stupid choice according to that analysis).

PS: commenters wrote that they would help friends, mostly with advice and I also do it (or at least attempt to) by spending my time (=money) for writing this blog. However there is a serious problem here. If someone spends his own resources to help others, it's personal luxury (he could buy a Lamborghini instead, that would be no less stupid). Helping friends may even be an investment if the person believes that the friend will return the help some way.

Socialism starts when the person demand that the country (= all the taxpayers, not just him) help the poor. The commenters assume that they can help the ones they want. This assumes that they have enough resources themselves to perform the help. However when they run out of resources, but there are still friends needing help, they will turn to the government. So a little enhancement to my orignial statement: "A social is necessarily socialist, unless he is so rich that he can help every friends and family". For 99.9% of us, the enchantment do not apply.

So everyone believing in "I help others" must ask himself: "If someone I love would be in trouble but I would have no more spare resources, would I demand the government help him, or accept that he is out of luck?"


Plastic Rat said...

I really do see your point here, and in some cases agree with many things you say. However I think what you're missing here is balance.

Humans aren't machines. We have emotions and attachments that aren't logical, but they make us more than we'd be without them.

I'll warn friends that they're doing something dumb and if they persist, I'm not going to help them out of the mess they made. It's part of the learning experience. It teaches you not to do the same dumb thing again.

Just the same, when I do something dumb, I don't accept help from others to get myself out of it. It's my mess, I'll fix it (unless it's damaging somebody else who didn't have anything to do with it, in that case I have to swallow my pride and accept help). E.G. If I caused an accident and injured somebody, if I couldn't pay to compensate that person, I would accept financial help to compensate them up front and then work to pay off that money to whoever I borrowed it from over time.

For a friend who is in a bad situation because of something that they couldn't help, I'll do everything I can to help them. They're obviously my friend because they have proven that they're not a 'm&s'. If say a friend gets hit by a drunk driver, not his fault. I'll do everything I can to help him out, including lending him a car if he needs one.

In short, balance. Don't support every idiot with a sob story, but also don't turn into a cold-blooded machine with no other goals beyond self preservation.

Animagis said...

You value human interaction (if not relationships) more than you might think, Gevlon.

The very fact that you go to the consistent effort of publishing a blog attempting to convince other people that they are doing themselves a disservice by enabling the people around them dispels any notion that you are not a social being.

You may not feel pity for those you consider lazy, but you have a genuine concern for those of us that you believe lazy people prey upon.

One can be social without becoming socialist in their thinking: with a desire to see those around them live up to their best potential. By bestowing the most valuable "charity" you can to those around you: the knowledge that self-reliance and independence is the most rewarding thing one can pursue.

Ziboo said...

Your analogies at times are a bit far fetched. You almost make Ayn Rand appear to be a softie!

I was in agreement with you about the capitalists, etc., but to lump in someone dying you'd rather say buck up and die than have hope?

I'm not talking about the get rich quick scheme types, or people that cannot/will not help themselves, but bad things happen to good people all the time.

I am too social for you, as I'm realistic about life (I've lived alot longer than you!) and I'll go the extra mile for a friend in need, not with a handout, but a hand up whether it be emotional, financial, physical or moral support. I value my friends and family too much to say - well screw you for being stupid about xyz!

WoW is a game. If you enjoy making tons of money peachy. If someone wants to level in 3 days go for it. If someone wants to sit outside Stormwind all day and duel knock yourself out.

We all pay to play so play how you want. I pass know judgements on how anyone chooses to spend their free time. Will I give that whiner a free run/money, etc., no. Would I help a friend that needs it, yes.

Just today I was chatting with a complete stranger about enchanting (new toon low level for me), he's leveling inscribing and opens a trade to hand me armor vellum. I try to refuse he said he had plenty and gave me some advice on enchanting and said good bye. I sent him a stack of herbs later as a thank you.

Did either of us need to do that no. It's kindness that keeps us human.

I'm seriously not sure if you believe everything you write or just put it out there to stir the pot at times.

Gevlon said...

Paragraph added to the post to answer the mentioned concerns.

mise said...

I know M&S as a department store with a reputation for quality food and old ladys clothes, could you tell me what the M&S you refer to are ?

Although I don't know exactly what you mean by M&S, its obviously a category you put people of certain behaviour into, you seem to be using the phrase with increasing scorn, and view people in this group as unworthy of consideratiion as anything else but a negative influences on society.


Anonymous said...

mise: M&S = morons & slackers

That is a very shortsighted attiude. Leaving lots of people who, for whatever reason, can't or won't help themselves, out in the cold while they see others get rich is VERY risky. Carry that too far and you risk widespread social unrest (bad for business) or in extreme cases a revolution (very bad for business and your personal health).

In WoW that risk is nonexistant, so your philosophy works quite well. Everywhere else, not so much. History shows enough examples of what happens when the gap between the haves and the have-nots gets too big.

Mahonnant said...

OK, you have a political agenda here, which is fine by me even if I find your ideology repulsive and cannot begin to fathom what drove you to such extremist ways of thinking.
What I'd like to analyse though is the paradox that represents your blog in the context of your ideology. Because here is the catch : by writing your blog, you provide help to the so-called M&S while you gain nothing material in exchange. The only thing you get is an empty and ultimately worthless feeling of appreciation through your page hit stats.
Let me tell you a story of a player you would consider as a M&S : he was always having money problem, couldn't afford an epic mount until a friend of his stopped the game and donated his assets. Auction house playing was not fun for him, he doesn't seem to grasp the "buy low, sell high" scheme (always ended un making some bad investments and consequently business never took off, anyway he wasn't terribly interested in making money as long as he could pay his repair bill)
One day he came accross a blog describing your glyph method (whohas / possessed + auctioneer). By just applying this recipe he now has upward of 30k gp (which he mostly uses to buy epic mounts for friends, on the basis that gold sitting in bank does nothing for him...)
OK I am the person described as you prolly guessed it. Point is : you gain nothing except a warm fuzzy feeling at the end of the day when looking at page hit stats... Maybe you're just a socialist at heart :)

*vlad* said...

I would demand the government help him, seeing as they are already helping millions of others.
Why stand on your own feet if other people who can't be bothered to work are getting hand-outs, funded from your previous tax contributions?

Barrista said...

I think a lot of people aren't "empathetic". They don't take anothers pain/issues on to themselves and therefore don't feel bad when this person loses their job or screws up. Maybe this is what some people think when they think antisocial, but I don't see anything wrong with this. We are all built differently.

While some people may think of this as bad, sometimes it can be a good thing. You may get taken advantage of less and those around you may have to think before they act more often.

Cassini said...

@ Mahonnant: I believe that Gevlons refers to people as M&S when they seem unwilling to help themselves learn but instead rely on others to do it for them. The example you gave is not an M&S one - you were given nothing but advice, yet you were the one that acted on that advice and as a result you made a profit and improved your way of doing business.

@ vlad: It's the second sentence of your parody that is the reason to worry!

Zekta Chan said...


Gevlon didn't contradict himself,
by his exact wording.

Socialism starts when the person demand that the country (= all the taxpayers, not just him) help the poor.

He's helping with his own resources.
He may justify this help as luxury as well, for the "feeling of appreciation" (And if it's worthless or not, it's on his own perception).

So, Helping don't make him a "socialist"
by his own definition.

@vlad and @Cassini
Indeed it's dragging US back for those welfare mechanics

Markco said...

LOL at the lost job comment, really funny.

Yaggle said...

I guess I generally agree that helping the poor is bad, but I don't really see socialism as helping the poor necessarily. I am not convinced that all business is better off privatized. I think the privatization of police, mail, and fire services has gone well and I think privatizing health care has not gone very well, so I am of the opinion that it should be nationalized. That would, in turn, help poor people more, I guess, but to me the point of socialism is not helping the poor, it is the government sometimes sticking their nose in and taking control of some things, just not most things. I have no doubt that most Europeans would say I am more of a capitalist but here in the U.S. my ideas are considered socialist. I don't feel that either capitalism or socialism is necessarily evil, or M&S system, but I believe instead of worrying whether an idea is capitalist or socialst, we should do whichever works best, and if it doesn't work best, try somethintg else.

Yaggle said...

Correction to my recent post:
"I think the privatization of police, mail, and fire services has gone well" SHOULD read "I think the socialization of police, mail, and fire services has gone well".

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

@ Mahonnat:
Gevlon is far from a socialist. He is a Randian sociopath.

He fails (like Rand) to see that society functions purely because of our social interconnections. So, he rejects all social interconnections, if favor of Friedman-like captialism, rejecting social mores for an amoral capitlist Darwinism. The only thing he values is success. And only capitalist success at that. And it doesn't matter how you succeed, as long as you do. Anything else makes you a moron or a slacker, and thus of no value to him.

Markco said...

@Grumpy when the government runs the show, nobody works. Capitalism is about rewarding you for working your ass off.

And the amazing thing is, once people succeed they tend to help others through donations and charities, which does more good than government intervention.

Sydera said...

This is one of your most misanthropic posts yet. Not all "help" costs anything in money.

If you have a dying relative, is it such a bad thing to call her on the phone and keep her company at such a hard time? It probably didn't cost you. What would you gain from neglecting to call/write/send a card. She's just going to die anyway, so there's no use being nice? I somehow don't think that's an idea most people would support.

Almost all human beings are social creatures. Even you, as you occasionally mention acquaintances and a girlfriend. Being a social creature means that we deal with other human beings and interact with them on a regular basis. Most of these interactions don't involve the exchange of money.

Socialism is a political standpoint.

Sydera said...

Also, Gevlon, why don't you just define M&S for everyone on your front page. Sometimes you have to do that if you invent a term and then use it every post.

Team said...


re: defining M&S

He actually already did that right at the top of the page. Maybe 72 point type would help?

phoenixboy said...

I see socialism as a system where the poor can live off without even try to search a job with just their "fiantial aids" and rich people do charity because is free self-steem and they can say that they are benevolent and generous (aka lying).

But if you care about a person, you need to let him learn the siple fact that life is tough in their own. Telling someone "i am not going to cheat for you", giving advices, listening their problems its, at the end, everything you can do for somebody you care about.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be a question of utility. For most people, helping the people that they like is something that they want to do. It can be considered an objective that has value in and of itself. The reason that it has value (monkey background) is irrelevant, it is as valid as any other objective.

For most people, it therefore makes sense to use their resources to help the people that they like, and if they do this in an efficient manner then so much the better.

For Gevlon, helping others has no utility value and therefore it is not one of his objectives. He will only do so in order to achieve other objectives.

I used to believe that an entirely logical approach to life would be optimal since I would therefore make all the right decisions. However, I now believe that without some illogical or emotional component to my thinking I would not have any goals in the first place. Everything would be equally valuable/valueless, and even measures that increased my efficiency would ultimately be meaningless, since they would necessarily derive their value from the goal which I had set.

Gevlon, like everyone, has set goals on an ultimately irrational basis. If he disagrees, I would invite him to create a flow chart of the reasons for him doing so, e.g.

i) I write the blog to reduce the number of M&S.
ii) I want to reduce the number of M&S because they are foolish and inefficient
iii) I wish to reduce foolishness and inefficiency because it offends me

When you can truly go no further down this list, you will have an irrational goal. Substitute this irrational goal for 'helping others' and substitute the frustration at seeing M&S flourish and joy at seeing them fail for a 'social person' feeling guilty about not helping others and happy that they have helped someone. Throw in some inertia ('social people' do not reassess their reasons for helping people every day, Gevlon does not reassess his reasons for dating your girlfriend every day) and you have a parallel.

Cat said...

I realize that you consider yourself not “social”, but you do have a girlfriend, so you must value some kind of connection to people. Unless she is there as a business decision.

This line was most telling to me since it indicates that you may not choose to remain connected to people in your life who are seriously ill, even if elongating their life would be worthwhile to them. It makes me wonder who will be with you when you are attempting to elongate your last days. Social people will most likely not be alone.

“I saw family members having serious health problems and (while I did not tell them) I thought it's a waste to try to elongate their life if curing is impossible. They (and those who decided to stay close to them) learned it the hard way.”

Russell said...

For the love of god. Socialism isn't some vague concept you get to pull out every time someone gets a welfare check. Socialism is the "dictatorship of the proletariat," where a centralized government controls the ENTIRE economy, top to bottom. It's supposed to be a temporary state on the way to the Communist utopia, where the workers control the means of production. Even the USSR wasn't really socialist (as it seems to be impossible in practice), but they were the closest thing to it and that country hasn't existed for almost 20 years. China is now pretty much a capitalist dictatorship.

To claim that anything even remotely resembling socialism exists on this earth, or that social safety nets lead to creeping socialism is outrageously incorrect. Socialism is a political theory, and not welfare, or helping your relatives/friends.

The liberal view can be summed up as "there but for the grace of god go I" when viewing misfortune. Now that doesn't apply to everything, but a little humility about one's circumstances and place in life seems appropriate to me. For example, the United States right now has about a 22% child poverty rate. In Sweden, it's about 4%. It's not a great leap to see that child poverty leads to adult poverty, producing the so-called "M&S" in an endless cycle. Practically every industrialized country has realized that for certain areas, free-market ideas are a catastrophic failure. Child poverty is one, health care is another. Doesn't make them socialist, just a bit less capitalist.

Gevlon said...

@Sydera: M&S is in the header of the blog.

@Anonymous: I write this blog to reduce the number of socialists, therefore my own tax. No irrationally included.

@Russel: Lenin told that the "dictatorship of proletariat" is a necessary evil to break the "evil businessmen". The communist utopia does not need dictatorship. So according to the socialists (including Lenin and Stalin) were actually "nice people", who just wanted to give the resources to the poor. They were "forced" to kill all those capitalists (meaning everyone with more than average wealth), since they refused to give their life's work to the M&S.

Jeff said...

You ignore the very simple fact that humans are not independent, they are interdependent. If you were truly independent you would not purchase products, you would make all goods yourself, you would produce everything you need. The shared illusion that is money depends on your acceptance that it has value. You are dependent on other's shared belief in its value. Without interdependence chaos results. It is also in your best interest to assist the rest of society in elevating their station because if you have wealth and others do not, they have an incentive to steal from you. By using your resources to improve their station (through the shared illusion of government) they have less incentive to harm you.

Think of taxes as a civilized way to give criminals your money to prevent them from stealing from you. More importantly it can be leveraged by the organization (be it an NGO or a government to have more value than your individual contribution ever could. This is part of the social contract.

The idea that pure capitalism will work relies on people not being greedy. Even Adam Smith understood that tradesmen will collude in any way they can to inflate prices without increasing work.

Anonymous said...


Reducing your tax means is not an end in itself, unless you have the (irrational) goal of accumulating wealth for its own sake.

What I am trying to illustrate is that any goal you have can be boiled down to factors that have nothing to do with logical reasoning. Why is having lots of experiences more valuable than having none? Why is being alive more desirable than being dead? Why is a full belly more desirable than hunger pangs? Circular arguments aside (learning lots of things is good because it makes me better able to doing things that make me more effective at...) it is largely the result of being a human animal.

For most people, helping their friends and loved ones is a similar hardwired urge to the above, just on a lesser scale.

Gareld said...

I believe a lot of people are misreading Gevlon here. Maybe I am too.

But what I got from his post is not to go burn orphanages or enter hospitals to kill the terminally ill with a shotgun(inexpensive) but rather that he wants his time and money invested in an efficient manner, he doesn't want his ressources wasted by someone else.

I long considered myself more of a social personn until I started working and having to fend for myself. I also discovered that I was not so social as I tought. I do value personnal friendship and family but once outside my close circle I don't care and have neither the time nor money to care.

I'm all for paying taxes to keep the public peace,health, have a better economy. These are things that benefits us all. Having a better economy keeps me employed, public epace means I get to live, things that are important.

But since my time is precious, I want to know that when I pay for something it gets well invested. I don't want to pay for someone who won't make the effort of helping themselves. If someone is going to die from illness after 6 months of cancer, suffering in an hospital bed why not make it shorter instead of making them suffer and cost more for everyone in the long term? And before anyone acuses me of being selfish, my grandfather went through that exact situation recently and it would have been better for everyone if it had not lasted this long.

But what it all boils down do is:
time = money.
Since my time is precious , my money is too and I don't want either of them to be wasted for someone who is living off others.

Jeff said...

In terms of law enforcement, public health, public safety, anti-trust regulation, etc. the most efficient use of your resources is taxes, you as an individual have no chance against a monopolistic corporation, because there is no way you can compete with their resources.

It is up to you as a citizen to monitor what your government does and bring to light their successes and failures.

Russell said...

"Lenin told that the "dictatorship of proletariat" is a necessary evil to break the "evil businessmen". The communist utopia does not need dictatorship. So according to the socialists (including Lenin and Stalin) were actually "nice people", who just wanted to give the resources to the poor. They were "forced" to kill all those capitalists (meaning everyone with more than average wealth), since they refused to give their life's work to the M&S."Well, that's more like Marxism/Leninism (an important distinction), but ultimately what is your point? The major capitalists were rounded up and crushed under the Bolsheviks, and that was precisely my point. In a Western democracy, one is not forced to give up one's entire wealth for the common good, one is legally compelled to give some percent, varying with income. NOT "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability." In a socialist state there is no such thing as wealth.

Sven said...


Socialism is only a temporary stage on the route to communism if you use the Marxist definitions of the term. There are plenty of other people (e.g. social democrats) who don't see communism as the final goal, but rather see themselves as pragmatists, using socialist approaches where they work best and capitalist ones when they do. So, for example, they might believe in a free market in cars, but not in healthcare.

There are even "libertarian socialists" ( *waits for Gevlon's head to explode at the thought*) who believe in limited government, but workers democratically controlling their own businesses, rather than third-party owners.

Sadly, the word "socialist" is thrown around casually as an insult by the US right, without much actual thought. The European left used to use the word "fascist" in a similar way back in the 70s and 80s. It's silly and lazy and doesn't inform the debate one jot.